How to maintain a Panama hat?

If you are a lover of these pieces of craftsmanship, surely you have asked yourself this on many occasions. When you buy a Panama, you know that you are buying a special product, made and woven by hand and that, therefore, it will require a series of specific cares.

Especially now that we are in the middle of August, the Panama hats become an indispensable accessory and, therefore, are used almost daily. We all know that this time of year is characterized by heat, sun and high temperatures, which can damage the fabric of a Panama hat. And, as these are perfect to avoid these three summer elements, it is necessary to know what we can do to maintain a Panama hat.

What is a Panama made of?

First of all, you must know what type of fiber you will treat when you go to implement the maintenance of your Panama.

It is a braided hat, handmade with toquilla straw. Its quality is not only due to the artisan work, but also to the process of extraction of the straw, which is native to the area, cultivated from Central America to Bolivia, especially in Ecuador.

In short, the straw is a durable natural fiber that, in its optimal conditions of humidity, remains flexible and tender for a long time. For this to be so, it is necessary to carry out an adequate maintenance and to face problems that can arise in the hat due to the use. Next, we listed the main cares so that your Panama has a long life!


Due to use, the straw loses its own moisture and therefore its flexibility. This fibre tends to dry out, above all, due to the effects of the sun and the wind. So how do you deal with this natural process of moisture loss?

When you notice that your hat becomes dry and stiff, apply water vapor from an iron at a certain distance. In this way, your hat will gain flexibility and you will notice it is less brittle.

But how will I know it needs hydration? It’s very simple! All you have to do is press the crown or carefully bend the brim. If you notice that it crunches or is stiff instead of flexible and soft, you know what to do!

Watch out! Too much moisture can be harmful! In humid climates it is advisable to keep the hat in a dry place to avoid the appearance of mould.


Manipulating the hat with dirty hands or by the simple excess of fat in the fingers causes, in many occasions, unwanted spots in your hat.

Since straw is a fiber very similar to paper, using an eraser (of the classic Milan type), most of the stains will disappear. However, there are others that need a little more skill. In these cases try to remove it with a soft sponge moistened with water and coconut soap. If this does not work, it is better to take it to an expert hatter for a diagnosis of the possible repair.


… do not press the crown with your fingers. If you pinch with your fingers in the area of the crown every time you take off and put on your Panama, it may sooner or later break and frost, since it is the most delicate area of the hat. Therefore, the ideal is to put it on and take it off either by taking it by the brim or by manipulating it by the crown with delicacy, subtlety and softness.


In these hot times of the year it is almost mandatory to sweat. One of the most noticeable parts of the body is the forehead, which is in contact with the hat’s fabrics. When the sweat dries it can cause small white spots on the cotton in the form of irregular lines.

To remedy this, using a cotton cloth moistened with water and coconut soap, gently rub the fabric where these unwanted sweat stains have formed. Once this is done, use the steam from the iron to make it perfect again.


We have already talked about how important it is to keep the humidity of the Panama so that it doesn’t get damaged. And we all know that heat is a source of dehydration. If you expose it to high temperatures (like the interior of a car), the heat will dry out a fabric like toquilla straw. Solution? Avoid leaving or storing your hat in places that reach excessive temperatures.


Panamas are hats worn for times when the sun can cause discomfort. Therefore, they are not impermeable to rain. If you end up getting wet for any reason, you must hit it with a clean rag and then dry it naturally in a ventilated place. To avoid deformation, never use direct heat sources such as dryers, radiators or heaters. Don’t leave your panama wet in the sun either, or it will roast!


To perform good maintenance even when you do not use your Panama, use a hatbox with the appropriate size to store and protect it. With it you will avoid that the hat receives blows and deforms or breaks by the pressure of other objects.


Never put your hat inside a suitcase or a travel bag. If you are going to take your hat with you, take it with you or get a rigid cardboard hatbox with a handle to avoid deformation, breakage or knocks.

Since it is summer and we usually go to the beach to show off, among other things, our hat, you should know that salt water is very harmful to the toquilla straw. So try to dry your hair well before wearing it again to reduce excess salt. The little that accumulates on the chamois can be removed as if it were sweat or another stain.

And here are our tips on maintaining a Panama hat. Now that you know more about it, what are you waiting for to take care of it?

Fernández y ROCHE.

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